Religion

Exploring the perceptions on pathways to manhood amongst urban young African adult men by HIV-prevention programme practitioners in Gauteng, South Africa

The pathways to manhood for young adult African men in urban settings are based more on socio-economic demands than socio-cultural expectations of being a man. This study was a qualitative explorative research on the perceptions of HIV-prevention practitioners on the different pathways to manhood among young adult African men in urban settings in Gauteng, South Africa. From the findings it was clear that there are diverse socio-cultural and socio-economic pathways to manhood, including the media, older men, peers, religion and women. These pathways affirm, confirm, validate and value a man as a man and not a boy in urban settings such as cities and informal settlements in Gauteng. The research concluded that a great deal more could be done to ensure that men get involved in HIV-prevention programmes by ensuring dialogue on manhood and masculinities between men and men, and men and women.

Perceptions of the link between religion and the feminization of poverty : a case of the Johane Marange Apostolic Faith of Seke Area in Zimbabwe

This dissertation explored perceptions of the link between religion and the feminization of poverty amongst research participants attached to the Johane Marange Church of Seke area in Zimbabwe. The study sought to explore whether the practices in the Johane Marange church exacerbated the feminization of poverty. A qualitative research approach was selected. Data included documentary sources, notes from observation, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. It is found that according to the research participants, some of the church’s traditions may drive the feminization of poverty in the area. In particular, the church’s stance concerning young women’s participation in higher education, people’s health-seeking behaviour, its own understanding of the causes of and treatment for HIV and AIDS, its encouragement of early age at marriage for women and support of the practice of widow inheritance all contribute to a deepening feminization of poverty

Zezi Vre Zom: Histoires d’hommes recits de conversions

Publication de La Vie Catholique inclus dans ce magazine, un CD comprenant chants et témoignages.

August 4, 2014 Themes: Religion Programs: Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC) | Journal

Bodies in the body of Christ : in search of a theological response to rape

This study argues that rape is an instrument of patriarchy, functioning in the same way as torture to keep patriarchal power hierarchies intact. Rape robs women of their voices, making and keeping them invisible. The body is a symbol for power and the female body represents patriarchal angst about losing power. The development of ontologies of body over the ages is traced, showing how these ontologies eventually led to the dualistic devaluing of the body. The body came to be seen as a commodity while the so-called inner or spiritual world became the body of theology. The body of Christ in 1 Corinthians is analysed, showing how Paul placed the body in the centre of theology and Christian life, while he simultaneously undermined the seemingly natural societal hierarchies by (re)constructing the body of Christ in a subversive way. The body of Christ re-members (remembers and reconstructs) the body in a way that controverts the abuse of women’s bodies. By subverting patriarchy’s power hierarchies, by valuing bodies and thereby making them visible, by transforming bodies and by imagining a body beyond patriarchy, the body of Christ re-members the social and individual body in a way that resists the violently abusive patriarchal body.

Hitting the glass ceiling : reflections on women in leadership through the lenses of social Identity

In Africa, we experienced a long history of patriarchal leadership not only in the spheres of politics, economics and culture but specifically also in the sphere of religion. In this regard many women aspiring for religious leadership experience the proverbial “hitting of the glass ceilingÀ. Many factors are influencing the current state of religious leadership and the accompanying identity formation. The purpose of this article is to do a descriptive-empirical investigation into some of these processes of leadership from feedback of female post-graduate students studying theology at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. The empirical results will be read through the lenses of Social Identity Theory. This will be done with a keen interest to see if the concepts we are using are still adequate and to search for the possibility of new understandings of religious leadership identities that might emerge and ways in which it can become part of curriculum development.

The culture of “silent sexuality” amongst the Shambala of Tanzania : towards an intercultural approach in the pastoral ministry

This dissertation aims at discussing the influence of two eminent trends on African culture: modernity and globalization with special reference to the culture of silent sexuality as understood and practiced by the Shambala of Tanzania. It is based on secondary data collected through review of studies, reports, policy documents and surveys from various data sets from national, regional and international organizations. The two trends have not only transported the good side of the economic and social development across the globe and connected people from different cultures or nations in the world, but have also changed the culture of host communities. For example, the change from collectivism social structure that characterizes African society to individualism social structure that characterises the market-oriented culture of western society. This change indicates that without doubt “globalization and modernity are the most important and developed theories of the twentieth centuryÀ (Ritzer 2008:230). The process of globalization for example allows two different cultures to either coexist or create a dynamic or transformation to a new and third type of culture, one to be absorbed by the other. If the new incoming culture dominates local culture to absorb it, it sources a conflict between the two cultures, in this case the conflict between the culture of silent sexuality and the western culture, popularly termed by Mankiw (2007:12) as “cultural westernizationÀ. The trend of cultural westernization of Africa has become very pervasive and prevalent, such that Western civilization has taken precedence over African values and culture and the latter are regarded as inferior to the former. As with other societies and cultures in the developing countries, the impact of western civilization on Africa has occasioned a discontinuity in forms of life throughout the continent. This has led to a cultural dualism that often presents itself as a real dilemma in concrete, real-life situations. In other words, the African experience of modernity and globalization is fraught with tensions at every level of the communal and social settings. The post-independence Africa is confronted with how to have a true identity, a new culture that is African in nature. Before the era of globalization there existed local, autonomous, distinct and well-defined, robust and culturally sustaining connections between geographical place and cultural experience. These connections constituted one’s community “cultural identityÀ. This identity was something people simply had as an undisturbed existential possession, an inheritance, a benefit of traditional long dwelling, of continuity with the past. Identity, then, like language, and other cultural practices, for instance the culture of silent sexuality, were not just descriptions of cultural belonging, they were collective treasures of local communities. But they were also discovered to be something fragile that needed protecting and preserving that could be lost, due to foreign influences. According to Ritzer (2008:231), into this world of diverse, discrete, but to various degrees vulnerable cultural identities there suddenly burst (apparently around the middle of the 1980s) the corrosive power of globalization which has swept like a flood tide through the world’s diverse cultures, destroying stable localities, displacing peoples, bringing a market-driven, “brandedÀ homogenization of cultural experience, thus obliterating the differences between locality-defined cultures which had constituted people’s identities. The Shambala culture of silent sexuality prior to modernity and globalization was aimed at preserving dignity and courtesy in the society. It maintained peace, created a harmonious environment for all people, and stabilized the moral standards of the entire community. Silent sexuality was also connected to the religious meaning of sacredness. Specifically, sex and sexuality were considered sacred and should be abused under no circumstances. The Shambala believed that sexuality was part of life itself; it was liable, by the same token, to be extremely destructive of life if mishandled. Sexual taboos helped to maintain a stable social structure by defining social relationships among members of the family, for example, husband-wife, father-daughter, and mother-son relationships. However, some members of the Shambala society have embraced modernity and globalization which have influenced their traditional sexuality. Sex, to them, is no longer a private matter, and they undermine traditional customs and taboos by regarding them as uncivilized and savage. The result shows that there are many sex related problems which have surfaced among the Shambala, such as unwanted teenage pregnancy, school dropout due to pregnancy and/or early marriage, abortion, rape, child prostitution and other factors. The research findings could serve as a call to the Shambala, the Church and the state to work together to find lasting solutions for the detrimental consequences of recent changes in patterns of sexuality among the Shambala and Tanzanians in general to ratify a gender based anti-violence bill that will be cherished in the constitution to guard women and girls from all forms of sexual violence and create public awareness of the privileges and dignity of women and children.

The interplay between fatherhood and male identity in family life among the Ovawambo of Namibia : a pastoral hermeneutical approach

The goal of this study was to investigate the driving force behind family conflicts, its relation to change in gender roles, male power abuse, and their impact on Ovawambo family life. Firstly, this research indicates that Ovawambo males are trained to be breadwinners, heads of families, owners of family properties, supervisors for their wives and children, and protectors of their families and the entire community. Secondly, the research indicates that both have also influenced the masculine identity of these males. The missionaries, as well as colonialism, promoted Western patriarchy, justified male dominance and reinforced the power of the male as the head of the family and exclusive holder of authority in the family, community and the state. The direct and indirect participation of men in the struggle for Namibian independence also possibly influenced them to apply power and threats. However, this study also indicates that Ovawambo males are under the influence of the modern mass media, which reflect and reinforce gender stereotypes and portray males as controlling or leading characters who tend to dominate women in relationships. Thirdly, this study indicates that the rapid socio-economic and political change, which took place in Namibia after independence, also directly affected Ovawambo male and female relationships. Through law reforms, gender roles were redefined and laws for gender equality were introduced. These laws (the Married Persons’ Equality Act, Family Law on Rape and Domestic Violence and Maintenance Act) challenged the male-dominant norms; thus, the men feel that law reforms favoured only the women. The second purpose of this study was to examine whether a pastoral-anthropological and theological understanding of God’s vulnerability could help pastoral care to address the problem of the Ovawambo male identity within the cultural setting of Namibian males and the notion of power abuse. In order to reframe male identity through a theological understanding of GodÀŸs power, the researcher selected the theopaschitic interpretation of the theology of the cross. The theopaschitic approach renders God’s power, in terms of the Pauline notion of astheneia, as weakness and compassionate vulnerability. The value of theopaschitic thinking, in terms of God’s praxis, is based on a shift from the substantial approach in theological reflection to the relational and encounter paradigm. Through appropriate understanding of the fatherhood of God, Ovawambo men can appreciate their power and ability to enrich relationships, rather than destroy. It is argued that, the power of God interpreted as “weaknessÀ and “vulnerabilityÀ, can contribute to a paradigm change in the interpretation of male identity within the cultural setting of the Ovawambo. The paradigm shift emanating from this theological understanding of power, is from “threat powerÀ (the need to control, to abuse, to dominate) to “intimate powerÀ (the need to comfort, to be compassionate and understanding and to bestow intimacy and love within the dynamics of family and social relationships). The study concluded that the church has a major role to play in helping families to survive the intrusiveness of modern family crises through a holistic systematic pastoral care model. The pastoral ministry of the church should help men to shift from selfishness, enmeshment, domination, dissociation and rejection, towards a healing family environment wherein intimacy, caring, trust, openness, understanding, supportive guidance and respect prevail. The church should fulfil this through models for relational, educational and therapeutic family enrichment programs. Pastoral care is one of the basic ways to promote, not only physical, but also spiritual well-being. It has been argued that an understanding of GodÀŸs power in terms of a theopaschitic interpretation of a theologia crucis can play a fundamental role as regards a theological reframing of the existing patriarchal and hierarchical paradigms. Instead of male dominance, a disposition and attitude of compassionate intimacy is proposed. Such a disposition should reflect a kind of diakonia position within the dynamics of family life. In terms of a Christian spiritual understanding of fatherhood, males should represent the sacrificial ethics of diakonic outreach as well as a stance of unconditional love.

Gaining, maintaining or losing resources : Muslim divorced women’s experiences of Iddah

This study, conducted in 2007À“2011, endeavoured to understand how resources influenced nine Muslim divorced women’s experiences of a relatively under-researched divorce-related ritual called Iddah. Prior to Islam’s inception, marriage and divorce were areas where women experienced oppression. Islam sought to change this by awarding women resources such as status and maintenance. Iddah was a form of social legislation that required men to treat their wives with dignity while maintaining them financially. However, what is said in the primary sources of Islam is not always practised. The context has thus changed from the time Islam originated. As a result there are various factors that have evolved to influence the religion, sometimes to the detriment of women within marriage and divorce, resulting in some of them finding it difficult to access resources. Using Marxist Feminism as a theoretical yardstick, it was noticed that certain contextual factors related to patriarchy and capitalism have come to influence the religion. The various themes developed, using qualitative research methods, created a platform to enquire which factors played a role in shaping women’s experiences of Iddah. While married, some respondents were physically abused and they had to endure the pain of their husbands being involved in illicit relationships. Hence they got divorced and performed Iddah. During this time some women were denied maintenance from their husbands due to spite. Certain participants alluded to receiving economic and emotional support from different types of support networks such as family members, friends and religious organisations. Some indicated that they were not happy with the support they received, citing stigmatisation and the fact that relevant support networks adopted an individualistic attitude towards some of them. It was concluded that some Muslims in the Gauteng region (the research site) have become influenced by patriarchal and capitalist practices which shape the number of resources available to women during Iddah. While Iddah was the central point of research, other factors that contradict Islamic law came to light. Hence a point for future research. Worthy support networks that assisted these women within a challenging society, should be acknowledged by government.

An investigation into the role of Xhosa male initiation in moral regeneration

This research study in Mdantsane (East London), Whittlesea (Hewu), Njiveni (Libode) and Cala sought to investigate the role of the amaXhosa male initiation in moral regeneration focusing on socio-cultural, educational and religious aspects related to moral values. The role of the amaXhosa male initiation as a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, how it was viewed in the past, its impact upon the initiates and its contribution to the moral upholding of values were investigated. It was further intended to establish whether westernisation and urbanisation brought a shift of meaning and emphasis to the current initiation practice and, if so, to what extent has the ceremony departed from traditional norms and what challenges the ceremony has to face at present. A qualitative research method involving an ethnographic study was utilised, which includes in-depth, semi-structured interviews (formal interviews and informal discussions) and participant observation. Research findings suggested that in the past the amaXhosa male initiation played a role in the instruction of moral values. However, this study identified a shift of meaning in the practice which has been more evident in urban than in rural areas. The shift suggested that the instruction role has changed in prominence and there is less emphasis on teaching and appropriate adult behaviour. Moreover that the amakhankatha, who had the major role in teaching of the initiates are now participating in making the role less effective and sometimes introducing influences that are destructive to the initiates. Such negative influences include abuse of alcohol and drugs, promiscuity among the youth and disobedience of elders. It is argued that revisiting the teachings surrounding male initiation may cultivate productive debates on how young males are taught morality in today’s society. Furthermore, that if the Xhosa male initiation could be contextualised it can play a role in the instruction of boys as they graduate to manhood and that can contribute to moral regeneration in South Africa.

A window into hope: An invitation to faith in the context of HIV and AIDS

This work explores the effects of HIV and AIDS in Africa from the view of a ministry within the experience. As well as looking at ways we can help one another in the face of this devastating epidemic, he examines the opportunities it provides the faithful. The author addresses personal responses to the disease, both religious and sexual and he also salvages some positives from the horror. He shows how the pandemic challenges us to question our very understanding of what it means to be human. Fr Igo, a clinical counsellor and therapist, is a prior of the Benedictine Monastry of Christ the Word in Zimbabwe.

January 8, 2014 Themes: HIV/AIDS | Religion Programs: Book | Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC)